First Nations Feast
Experience First Nations culture with a serving of bannock bread and other traditionally inspired meals, as well as a visit to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.
With all the media attention surrounding the Winter Games, viewers around the world are discovering the many unique charms of Whistler, Canada. But no British Columbia experience is complete without learning a little more about the people who first discovered Whistler.
Known collectively as the First Nations, the Squamish and Lil’wat local tribes were the aboriginal occupants of the lands surrounding Whistler. Today, they continue to preserve and showcase their cultures at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) through live song, artwork and historical displays.
For those who learn through their stomach, the Centre also highlights traditional food. Through a unique catering partnership with the SLCC, Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler works closely with the First Nations to offer visitors authentic indigenous cuisine in the Centre’s Café. One such offering, Bannock bread, has been especially popular among visitors.
“Last year alone we served over 11,000 pieces of Bannock,” says Café Manager Albert Kirby. “It’s very gratifying to see our culinary ambassadors work so hard to keep one of their traditional foods current and thriving.”
Although based on the original fry-bread made by the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations, the current version has been modified to make it lighter and more appealing to modern palates. For example, historically Bannock was made from dried tree mosses ground into a type of flour and fried in salmon oils. Today, the Café uses regular bread flour and fries it in trans fat–free oils. Chefs have also recently started experimenting with new flavours, testing such ingredients as local purple sage, wild blueberry, bacon, cheddar and chive.
“Locals come here specifically for a coffee and Bannock fix, and they’re pleasantly surprised whenever we come out with a new flavour,” Kirby says.
Select First Nations menu items are also served across the street at Four Seasons Resort’s Fifty Two 80 Bistro. Executive Chef Scott Thomas Dolbee collaborated with First Nations Chef Andrew George to create such traditional delicacies as savoury bison Carpaccio and braised sturgeon with seasonal Pemberton vegetables drizzled in vodka caviar crème fraîche sauce. Bannock is also featured during evening bread service.
Bannock bread—along with other hearty items like venison chilli and salmon chowder—is available in the Café from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm daily. First Nations–inspired cuisine is also available on Fifty Two 80 Bistro’s evening menu, which changes seasonally and is offered seven days a week from 5:00 to 10:00 pm.
Bannock Bread Recipe
2 cups flour
1 cup water
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp sugar
1 pinch salt
Directions: Mix until consistent with a flaky dough, and form into small patties. If desired, add additional sweet or savoury ingredients to fit individual tastes. Fry in 1/2 inch of oil over medium heat until golden brown.